The REFORM Alliance team has secured its first major legislative victory.
On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1950 into law. REFORM Alliance—which was co-founded by Meek Mill, Jay-Z, Michael Rubin, and others—was heavily involved in pushing the bill through the legislature this session alongside its primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove. The organization's chief advocacy officer, Jessica Jackson, and its national policy director, Erin Haney, led an online campaign in support of AB 1950.
The bill aims to lower recidivism rates by shortening probation terms across California. The period has been dropped from three years to one year for most misdemeanor cases and from five years to two years for most felony offenses.
"By signing AB 1950 into law, Governor Newsom has further cemented his legacy as a champion for justice, redemption, and opportunity," said REFORM Alliance CEO Van Jones. "In a year that has been so challenging and difficult for so many, this reform marks a bright spot that will lead to better outcomes for individuals and families across California. I cannot thank the Governor enough for supporting this legislation. I look forward to working with him to make the measure even stronger and more meaningful in the coming year."
According to REFORM Alliance, California tax payers spend more than $4,400 annually on each of the 300,000 parolees in the state. It also points out California spends approximately $2 billion each year to incarcerate people for parole violations—"$235 million of which is spent on incarcerating people for victimless, technical violations like coming home late from work." The organization argues that the money saved under AB 1950 can be reinvested into anti-recidivism programs that will help former inmates readjust to society and put them on a springboard to success.
"I want to thank Governor Newsom for his leadership in signing AB1950, the most transformative probation bill in this country to date," Jay-Z said in a statement. "This is a first step that I hope introduces a wave of much needed change throughout the country."
“This is exactly why we created REFORM – to change laws and create a smarter criminal justice system focused on rehabilitation and redemption all while keeping communities safe,” REFORM co-chair Michael Rubin added. “We’re grateful for Governor Newsom and Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove’s commitment to making such meaningful change in California and we hope it sets a necessary precedent for state leaders across the country.”